Good Books and the Random Movie

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Location: Brooklyn, NY, United States

31 May 2007

The Year They Burned the Books

In Nancy Garden's The Year They Burned the Books, a whole town joins the argument over the new health education curriculum.

Jamie Crawford, the editor of the Wilson High Telegraph, lead the student fight against what she sees as limiting her freedom of speech. Lisa Buel, of Families for Traditions Values (read homophobic, right wing, religious nuts), is the head of the movement to remove the new health texts from the schools because they talk about things other than abstinence. The even mention gay people!

This is a battle that will include everyone who lives in town of Wilson, New England written in a realistic way that will infuriate those of us who do not believe in banning books. At one point I had to put the book down because I was so made that there are people like the FTV who can make queer or questioning teen's lives hell. But the book is worth a read. It is an important issue.

Garden, Nancy. (1999). The Year the Burned the Books. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

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S.P. Likes A.D.

The book S.P. Likes A.D. by Catherine Brett, is about a dinosaur. Stephanie Powell enters an art contest at school. The winner of the contest gets to erect a sculpture in front of the school. As Stephanie doesn't really think she is going to win, she fill in the dimensions of the project at 12 feet high.

When she wins, she realizes that she has to actually build the thing. It is the shape of a dinosaur head made of various dinosaur bones. To make the project more manageable, she invites some classmates to help her and enlists the help of a friend of her mother's who is a paleontologist.

But when the girl she has a crush on joins the volunteers, Stephanie is not sure she will be able to concentrate on the sculpture.

Brett, Catherine. (1989). S.P. Likes A.D. Toronto, Ontario: The Women's Press.

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30 May 2007

The Will of the Empress

The Will of the Empress, by Tamora Pierce, is a tale of magic and politics. The four main characters have been featured in 8 other books by Pierce (the Circle of Magic and the Circle Opens books), but it is not necessary to read them to enjoy this novel.

Sandry (Sandrilene fa Toren) must travel to Namorn to see to the lands she inherited from her mother. The lands are being well cared for by her cousin Ambros, but the taxes are becoming outrageous. The taxes, set by the Empress, are a ruse to get Sandry into Namorn. She intends to entice or trick Sandry into marrying a Namonese man so that the profit from her land will be kept with the empire.

Sandry is accompanied by her circle of friends: Daja - a metal mage, Briar - a plant mage, and Tris - a weather mage. Sandry herself is a stitch-witch. The four have been friends most of their lives but have been separated for the last couple of years due to travel.

Now they are back together, but will their bonds be strong enough to overcome the tension that has developed between them? Can the others possibly understand the experiences each has had to live through during the last years? Will they be strong enough to escape the Will of the Empress?

Pierce, Tamora. (2005). The Will of the Empress. New York: Scholatic.

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28 May 2007

The Road

The Road by Cormac McCarthy is a look at a post-nuclear war US. A father and son are making their way south to the ocean in the hopes to find a better climate in the rapidly cooling bomb-triggered cooling trend.

They are equipped with a shopping cart and two backpacks full of belongings - mostly food and blankets. The danger of following the road is that there are bands of people who have lost their humanity patrolling for anyone who comes along. These people will do anything to survive, including cannibalism.

This novel is an interesting look at one possible future for our planet. Once you get past the lack of punctuation, it is a quick and interesting read. It reminded me a bit of Into the Forest - the story of two sisters who are trying to deal with the breakdown of society.

McCarthy, Cormac. (2006). The Road. New York: Knopf.

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27 May 2007

City of the Beasts

City of Beasts is Isabel Allende's first novel for young readers. It is the story of Alexander Cold. Alex's mother is sick and the three kids are sent to their grandmothers' houses. His two sisters to his mom's mom, and him to his dad's mom, Kate.

Kate is a writer. She travels the world writing stories for International Geographic. She and Alex will be going into the Amazon with a team of journalist and anthropologists to investigate the rumors of "the beast" - a yeti-like creature said to inhabit the upper reaches of the Amazon known at the Eye of the World.

Kate is not the typical grandmother. One year for Alex's birthday she sent him chocolates - after she had replaced the filling with Tabasco sauce. She has a wicked sense of humor and tries not to show affection. But Alex knows that she really loves him. Every once in a while she will forget herself and hug him.

Alex's journey into the jungle will be the adventure of a lifetime, if he lives through it.

Allende, Isabel. & Pender, M. S (Translator). (2002). City of the Beasts. New York: HarperCollins.

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24 May 2007


Crush by Carrie Mac is about Hope, a girl who is forced to stay with her sister for the summer. Her parents are off to Thailand to open a school. Her sister, who lives in Brooklyn, is a waitress / model / dancer who only cares about partying. She has never been away from her parents for this length of time, and unlike most teen, is saddened by the idea.

When she gets to New York, her sister has little time or room in her life to pay attention to Hope. Luckily, she lives in a cool neighborhood – Park Slope – where there is much to do. While exploring the Slope, Hope meets Nat.

For some reason she cannot get Nat out of her mind… Does thinking about kissing another girl make her queer?

Mac, Carrie. (2006). Crush. Custer, WA: Orca Books.

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23 May 2007

YA Lesbian Fiction

Here is the list of young adult lesbian fiction - the titles I collected from the Young Adult Librarian Services listserv. I will be making my way through the list this summer and blogging about them as I finish each book.

Barr, Nevada. 1999. Bittersweet.
Bechdel, Alison. 2007. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.
Benduhn, Tea. 2003. Gravel Queen.
Boock, Paula. 1999. Dare Truth or Promise.
Brett, Catherine. 1989. S.P. Likes A.D.
Brown, Rita Mae. 1983. Rubyfruit Jungle.
Burchill, Julie. 2005. Sugar Rush.
Dingman, Monna L. 1998. My Bicycle Trip.
Donoghue, Emma. 2001. Stir-fry: A Novel.
Donovan, Stacey. 1994. Dive.
Embree, Michelle. 2006. Manstealing for Fat Girls.
Francis, Jaye. 1991. Rebecca. (Lesbian mom)
Futcher, Jane. 1981. Crush.
Garden, Nancy. 1982. Annie On My Mind.
Garden, Nancy. 1996. Good Moon Rising.
Garden, Nancy. 2000. Holly’s Secret. (Lesbian parents)
Garden, Nancy. 1991. Lark in the Morning.
Garden, Nancy. 1999. The Year They Burned the Books.
Glasser, Sophie. 2003. I’ve Known Since I Was Eight.
Goobie, Beth. 2006. Hello Groin.
Guy, Rosa. 1976. Ruby.
Hamilton, R.J. 1995. The Case of the Missing Mother. (Lesbian mother)
Harris, Lexi. 2004. Heart.
Hartinger, Brett. 2003. The Geography Club.
Hautzig, Deborah. 1978. Hey, Dollface.
Hines, Sue. 2000. Out of the Shadows.
Johnson, Maureen.2007. The Bermudez Triangle.
Kerr, M.E. 1994. Deliver Us from Evie.
Kesselman, Wendy Ann. 1983. Flick.
Kllingsworth, Monte. 2001. Equinox. (Lesbian parent)
Klein, Norma. 1980. Breaking Up. (Lesbian mother)
Klein, Norma. 1985. Family Secrets.
Klein, Norma. 1989. Learning How to Fall. (Lesbian mother)
Klein, Norma. 1987. My Life as a Body.
L’Engle, Madeleine. 1984. A House like a Lotus. (Lesbian secondary character)
Levithan, David. 2006. Wide Awake.
Levy, Elizabeth. 1981. Come Out Smiling.
Mac, Carrie. 2006. Crush.
MacLean, Judy. 2004. Rosemary and Juliet.
Mullins, Hilary. 1993. The Cat Came Back.
Myracle, Lauren. 2003. Kissing Kate.
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. 1999. Alice on the Outside.
Park, Christine. 1986. Joining the Grown-Ups. (Lesbian mother)
Pausacker, Jenny. 1987. What Are Ya?
Perrota, Tom. 1998. Election.
Peters, Julie Ann. 2006. Between Mom and Jo. (Lesbian parents)
Peters, Julie Ann. 2005. Far From Xanadu.
Peters, Julie Anne. 2003. Keeping You a Secret.
Peters, Julie Anne. 2004. Luna. (Transgender M to F)
Pierce, Tamora. 2006. The Will of the Empress.
Reading, J.P. 1980. Bouquets for Brimbal.
Rees, David. 1980. The Lighthouse.
Revoyr, Nina. 1997. The Necessary Hunger.
Reynolds, Marilyn. 2001. Love Rules.
Ripslinger, Jon. 2003. How I Fell In Love and Learned to Shoot Free Throws. (Lesbian parents.)
Ryan, Sara. 2001. Empress of the World.
Ryan, Sara. 2007. Rules for Hearts.
Salat, Cristina. 1993. Living in Secret. (Lesbian mother)
Scoppettone, Sandra. 1978. Happy Endings Are All Alike.
Shimko, Bonnie. 2002. Letters in the Attic.
Singer, Marilyn. 1983. The Course of True Love Never Did Run Smooth.
St. George, Judith. 1981. Call Me Margo. (Adult)
Stoehr, Shelley. 1998. Tomorrow Wendy: A Love Story.
Strelkoff, Alison. 1998. Alison.
Tolan, Stephanie. 1980. The Last of Eden.
Torres, Laura. 1999. November Ever After.
Waters, Sara. 2002. Fingersmith. (Adult)
Waters, Sara. 2000. Tipping the Velvet. (Adult)
Watts, Julia. 2001. Finding HF.
Williams, Bett. 1998. Girl Walking Backwards.
Wittlinger, Ellen. 1999. Hard Love.
Woodson, Jacqueline. 1991. The Dear One. (Lesbian parents)
Woodson, Jacqueline. 1995. From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun. (Lesbian parents)
Woodson, Jacqueline. 1997. The House You Pass on the Way.
Woodson, Jacqueline. 1998. If You Come Softly. (Lesbian sister)
Wyeth, Sharon Dennis. 2004. Orphea Proud.
Yamanaka, Lois-Ann. 1999. Name Me Nobody.

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22 May 2007

The Tenth Power (Chanters of Tremaris #3)

The Tenth Power is the final book in the Chanters of Tremaris trilogy by Kate Constable. After being in the desert of Merithuros, Calwyn decides to go home to Antaris to recover. Trout and Mica join her. But things are not as she remembers them. The sisters have not rebuilt since Samis was there in the first book, The Singer of All Songs. There is a sickness that has settled over the community, one that only affects chanters. And this is the longest winter anyone remembers.

Darrow, Tonno and Halasaa have gone to Gellan to find out if the rumors of Samis being alive are true. The sickness that is in Antaris is also affecting the chanters of Gellan. They must find the information they seek and get out before Darrow, the only chanter among them, can be infected.

What is making the chanters of Tremaris ill? Is it that they have abused their powers? Will Calwyn be able to find an answer using the knowledge she gains in Antaris? Or will she and her friends be too late?

Constable, Kate. (2005). The Tenth Power. New York: Scholastic.

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21 May 2007

And Tango Makes Three

And Tango Makes Three is a beautiful true story about a penguin family in New York City’s Central Park Zoo. Roy and Silo were never interested in the girl penguins. They only wanted to be with each other. They did everything the other couples did – they built a nest and took care of one another. But each time they looked in their nest, there was no egg. All of the other couples had eggs. Then one day the zoo keeper, Mr. Gramzay decided to give them an egg from another couple who had more than one.

Roy and Silo took turns taking care of the egg until one day it hatched. That was the day their daughter Tango was born. Today you can still see the three of them at the zoo – one happy gay penguin family.

This book is very sweet. It is also on the American Library Association’s most challenged books of 2006. The people who want the book removed from library shelves say it is anti-family. Hello, it is all about family! Who are these people?

Richardson, R. & Parnell, P.; Cole, H. (illustrator). (2005). And Tango Makes Three. New York: Simon & Schuster.

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20 May 2007

How I Fell in Love and Learned to Shoot Free Throws

How I Fell in Love and Learned to Shoot Free Throws is a book about a boy who falls in love with the star of the girls basketball team. She, Angel, is a loner. She doesn’t have many friends and never has a boyfriend. Danny, who loses a free throw contest against her, asks her to help him with his shot. She is reluctant at first, but she agrees to teach.

Danny doesn’t really care if his free throw gets better. He just wants to hang around with Angel. But she repeatedly thwarts his attempts to get her to talk about anything other than basketball. Then, when they are playing a one-on-one game, she hurts her ankle. Though she begs him not to take her home, he cannot leave her on the court, almost a mile from home. Why is she trying so hard to keep him away from her house?

It turns out that Angel’s mother is a lesbian. And every time her classmates find out, no matter how many schools she transfers to, they harass her until her life is unbearable. Of course Danny has the perfect solution, she should start going out with him to prove to everyone she likes guys. Will she go for it? Will she even talk to him again after he broke her ankle during the game?

Ripslinger, Jon. (2003). How I fell in love and learned to shoot free throws. Brookfield, CT: Roaring Brook Publishing.

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18 May 2007

The Waterless Sea (Chanters of Tremaris #2)

The Waterless Sea is the second book in Kate Constable’s Chanters of Tremaris trilogy. Calwyn and her friends – Darrow, Mica, Halasaa, Tonno, and Trout – continue their adventure which began in the first book, The Singer of All Songs.

Heben comes from the Empire of Merithuros where all children who have a talent for chantment are stolen off to the palace to be forced into serving the empire. He has heard of Calwyn and her friends – the band of chanters that has become a pirate’s worst nightmare – making the seas safer and releasing windworkers and captives of the pirates. He has come to seek their help. Heben’s siblings – the twins Shada and Gada – have been kidnapped by the black-clad men. He wants Calwyn and her friends to help free them.

Will they get to the children in time? Will they even be able to find them in the vast desert that is Merithuros?

Constable, Kate. (2003). The Waterless Sea. New York: Scholastic.

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17 May 2007

Kissing Kate

Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle is the story of one teenager trying to figure out who she is. Lissa and Kate had been best friends for four years. Then Kate kissed Lissa. And Lissa kissed her back. Now Kate is pretending that Lissa doesn’t exist.

Lissa, with the help of her new friend Ariel and a book on lucid dreaming, is on a quest to find out who she is. It turns out she already knows who she is, she just needs to admit it to herself.

This is a warm and funny book about coming of age and learning to be okay with who you are meant to be. And everyone’s life would be just a little more bearable with a crazy friend like Ariel.

Myracle, Lauren. (2003). Kissing Kate. New York: Dutton Books.

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16 May 2007

Empress of the World

You (my one reader) may notice that I am starting a YA Lesbian Fiction trend. I am. As a member of the listserv for Young Adult Librarians, I gathered a list of titles – about 90 books – my summer reading list. I also have a list of YA fantasy books that I will be working on.

Empress of the World has a similar theme to The Bermudez Triangle – summer camp for smart kids. This one is about Nicola “Nic” who goes to the Siegal Institute Summer Program for Gifted Youth to study archaeology.

On the first day Nic meets Katrina – the computer chick, Issac – the nice guy and Battle – the beautiful blonde dancer. They become fast friends. Nic has had theater friends and orchestra friends, but for the first time she feels like she has friend friends. And soon she realizes she is falling in love with one of her new friends – Battle.

She knew she was attracted to other girls, but she has never acted on her feelings. Does Battle even feel the same?

Ryan, Sara. (2001). Empress of the World. New York: Viking.

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15 May 2007

The Bermudez Triangle

The Bermudez Triangle is a great book. I first heard about the book because a school board in Bartlesville, Oklahoma voted to ban it from the school. When they voted no member of the board had read the book. How responsible is that?

Here is the book…

It is about three friends – Nina, Avery, and Melanie – who have known each other most of their lives. The book begins during the summer before their senior year of high school.

Nina is going away for most of the summer to attend a program at Stanford. This will be the first time since they were eleven that the three of them have been apart. While she is in California, she meets a guy. Steve. Too bad he lives in Oregon and she lives in New York.

Mel and Avery stay home and get jobs at a restaurant. They also fall in love over the summer, with each other.

How will Nina react to find out the triangle has become one couple and her? How will their friendship change over the course of their senior year?

The book is being challenged due to kissing - a girl kissing a girl. That's it. Nothing beyond kissing is mentioned. Have you read some of the straight YA fiction? This is nothing to be censored over. Think of those poor kids who are trapped in Oklahoma while questioning their sexuality!

Read it and then send a letter to the school board telling them to put it back on the shelf! Mrs. Janet Vernon, Executive Director of Secondary Instruction Dr. Richard Rosenberger, Executive Director of Human Resources Mr. Chuck McCauley, Principal of Bartlesville High School.

Johnson, Maureen. (2004). The Bermudez Triangle. New York: Razorbill.

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14 May 2007

The Singer of All Songs (Chanters of Tremaris #1)

The Singer of All Songs by Kate Constable is the first book in the Chanters of Tremaris trilogy. It was suggested as a read alike for my favorite books, The Abhorsen Trilogy.

Calwyn has never been beyond the high ice wall that surrounds Antaris from the rest of Tremaris. She lives among the ice princesses who maintain the wall, through magic, to protect the kingdom from outsiders. She is to become an ice princess herself within the year.

But when a mysterious Outlander appears inside of the wall, her plans change. In an attempt to help Darrow, the Outlander, to escape from the evil sorcerer who is hunting him, she will leave the safety of Antaris.

Will they be able to thwart the plans of the evil sorcerer?

Constable, Kate. (2002). The Singer of All Songs. New York: Scholastic.

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10 May 2007

The Traveler (The Fouth Realm #1)

The Traveler, by John Twelve Hawks, is a story about the grid. The grid is the technology, surveillance, and tracking methods the government used to watch us. This book takes place in a world very similar to ours, though hopefully, not just like ours.

In London, a woman who has been training all of her life to protect the Pathfinders, is called into action. She is not sure that she believes all that her father has told her about how the world works, but when he is killed, she must act none the less.

In New York, a secret shadow organization exists to make sure that Pathfinders are killed before they can effect the status quo.

In Los Angles, two brothers start to realize they have strange powers.

How does it all tie together? Will the woman from London be able to protect the brothers from those who wish them dead?

This book is great. It is the first in a trilogy. Book two: The Dark River, is due out in July of this year.

Twelve Hawks, John. 2005. The Traveler. New York:Vintage Books.

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09 May 2007

The Gilded Chamber

Rebecca Kohn's The Gilded Chamber is the story of Queen Esther. This novel takes what little is known of Esther, combined with research of the time period, to create a plausible story of her life.

This is the story of an orphaned Jewish girl who goes to live with her cousin, Mordechai in the capital of Susa. Mordechai had changed his name to Marduka to fit in. He no longer followed Jewish law, but he also did not bow to the idols surrounding his new life. The change for Esther, from her parents kosher home, to her bothers seemingly traif life, was a shock.

But not as much of a shock as when she was kidnapped to become part of the king's harem. Esther is show to be both brave, smart and naive. The story follows her from her introduction to life in the harem through her rise to becoming Queen Esther.

This is a compelling story. Did it really happen this way? No one knows, but Esther did save the Jews of Babylonia from the evil Haman. So, maybe...

Kohn, Rebecca. (2005). The Gilded Chamber: A Novel of Queen Esther. New York: Penguin.

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08 May 2007

TV: The Grid

The BBC and TNT joined forces to tell this story of international terrorism and the agencies around the world trying to stop then. The Grid - staring Juliana Margulies, Dylan McDermott, and Jemma Redgrave - has been hailed as a cross between Alias and 24.

US counter terrorism operatives NSA agent Maren Jackson and FBI agent Max Canary launch a joint campaign with MI5 agent Derek Jenkins and his MI6 counterpart Emily Tuthill against an international network of Islamist terrorists set on destroying the world's economic foundations.

This mini-series is action packed and intelligent. I highly recommend it. If fact, I wouldn't mind owning it. And since I own a total of 9 DVDs, you know that is indeed high praise.

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07 May 2007

The Wolf Ticket

Caro Clarke's The Wolf Ticket is a story of Europe at the end of WWII. Pascale Tailland is an American translator in the US Women's Army Corps. She and her unit are leaving Germany for France when she see a refugee on the train station platform. She has seen many refugees during the war, but this one catches her eye for some reason. Pascale pulls the refugee on board just as the train leaves the station.

Did Pascale know the young man was really a woman in disguise?

Though they spend only one night on the train talking to each other, they have an instant connection. Pascale tries to help, but gets the refugee locked up for stowing away on the train. They will spent the rest of the war trying to find each other again, with the help of a few friends along the way. In this time of complete turmoil and chaos in Europe, with they be able to find each other again before it is too latte?

The Wolf Ticket is a well written account of one (fictional) Polish woman who found a way to survive the war and its aftermath. It is well a researched and moving tale.

Clarke, Caro. (1998). The Wolf Ticket. Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books.

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05 May 2007

Beyond the Pale

Elana Dykewoman's Beyond the Pale is a an epic tale of a Jewish lesbians. Set between 1860 and 1912, the novel follows the story of Gukte and Chava.

Gukte is a midwife who emigrates to New York's lower east side with her partner who passes as a man. Their story is interwoven with the story of Chava Mayer, a orphaned girl who comes to America with her cousin Rose and her family.

The novel tells the story of Russian Jewish immigrants, as well as the story of New York. Included themes - sweatshop labor, anti-Semitism, strikes, sexual harassment. Historical figures, events and speeches are woven into the story including the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, the Women's Trade Union League with its leaders, and more.

This is an amazing book that was thoroughly researched. Read it!

Dykewoman, Elana. (1997). Beyond the Pale. London:Press Gang.

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03 May 2007

Voices (Annals of the Western Shore #2)

Voices is Ursula Le Guin’s second book in the Annals of the Western Shore collection. The story takes place seventeen years after Gifts. The main character, Memer, lives in a city taken over by the ignorant neighboring country – a people who believe that books and written words are evil.

Before the siege Memer’s people were scholars. Today, all books that have not been thrown into the Sea by the Alds, are hidden – to be caught with one would mean death. But things may be about to change. A story-teller and his wife come to town. They are Orrec and Gry of the Uplands and they give Memer hope of a brighter future.

The third book, Powers, is due out in September of this year.

Le Guin, Ursula K. (2006). Voices. New York: Harcourt Inc.

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01 May 2007

Gifts (Annals of the Western Shore #1)

Gifts is the first book in Ursula Le Guin's Annals of the Western Shore series.

But these are not necessarily gift you would like to receive. The Uplanders are farmers in a fairly unpopulated land. Some have wonderful or useful abilities like summoning animals or bringing forth fire. Others have gifts that only destroy - the ability to inflict illness or chain a mind. The Uplanders live in fear that their neighboring families will unleash these "gifts" against each other.

But even worse for Orrec, he has a wild gift. He has the power to undo - to destroy. But he cannot control it. In an effort to spare the people he loves potential harm he binds his eyes. His friend Gry will help him find his way through the darkness.

Will a blindfold be enough to harness the power to destroy? Or will the wild gift control young Orrec even in the darkness?

Le Guin, Ursula K. (2006). Gifts. New York: Harcourt Inc.

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